dglobalnews.com EPA head Pruitt ordered to provide communications with fossil fuel interests
Published: Sun, February 19, 2017
National | By Glenda Ortiz

EPA head Pruitt ordered to provide communications with fossil fuel interests


The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be EPA administrator in a 52-46 vote. In fact, even as Pruitt was being confirmed, news broke that an Oklahoma court had ordered him to release thousands of pages of correspondence between Pruitt's office and the oil-and-gas industry, as he wasn't compliant with state records laws on the subject.

Pruitt, who was serving as the Attorney General of Oklahoma, has always been an opponent of federal environmental regulation, and has sued the EPA several times in his role as the Sooner State's AG.

Given the EPA's mission "to protect human health and the environment", Pruitt's strong ties to the fossil fuel industry, hostility to the very agency he now leads, and uncertainty on climate science had sparked fierce outcry from advocacy groups, EPA workers, and Democratic lawmakers.

Trump's nominee, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is likely to pass the vote, which is scheduled for 1 pm EST (1800 GMT) on Friday, with the support of almost all the Republicans in the Republican-controlled Senate.

"Scott Pruitt is the most thoroughly vetted nominee ever to lead this agency", said Sen. Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, told The Washington Post that Pruitt's confirmation augurs a "a full-scale assault on the protections that Americans have enjoyed for clean air, clean water, and a healthy climate". Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups that predict he will roll back EPA's enforcement efforts. Susan Collins of ME voted no. Almost 800 present and former EPA officials have signed a letter opposing Pruitt; many have also taken it upon themselves to call US senators to voice their disapproval.

He set up a "federalism unit" at the office of the Oklahoma attorney general to "combat unwarranted regulation and overreach by the federal government".

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Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer, said there was no good reason not the delay the vote.

Mr Pruitt had refused to hand over the emails for more than two years.

Pruitt argued during his confirmation hearing that he wasn't against environmental quality standards - he just thinks that they are better enforced on the state level.

But the Senate declined to (or, perhaps, purposely did not) wait for those emails to vote on the Pruitt nomination.

Environmental activists and many Democrats pushed to delay the confirmation vote until those emails are released - probably sometime next week - but Republicans had no interest in a delay, especially after Democrats deliberately slow-walked the confirmation process for many of President Donald Trump's Cabinet.

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